The Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force on 25 March 2020. This is temporary legislation which has a huge impact on vulnerable adults in need of, and currently receiving, social care support.
Key duties imposed under the Care Act 2014 are now suspended, allowing local authorities discretion to assess and meet needs for social care support. Local authorities will now only have a mandatory obligation to meet needs if failing to do so would result in a breach in the individual’s human rights.
- Assessment of needs - The Care Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to assess the needs of adults, adult and young carers, and disabled children in transition to adult services, for care and support should it appear that they may be in need –a low threshold to trigger this duty. The Coronavirus Act 2020 has suspended this duty to assess, with the local authority now having discretion as to whether to conduct an assessment.
- Financial assessment – where a person is deemed eligible for care and support provision, the Care Act 2014 places a positive obligation on local authorities to conduct an assessment of a person’s finances i.e. financial assessment. The Coronavirus Act 2020 has suspended this duty to undertake a financial assessment, but would not be able to charge for care and support without having done an assessment.
- Duty to provide support to meet eligible needs – the Care Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to meet an adult’s unmet needs for care and support if found to be eligible following an assessment of the person’s needs. The Coronavirus 2020 has weakened this duty significantly, with local authorities now only having to provide care and support should this be necessary to prevent a breach of the person’s human rights (under the European Convention on Human Rights).
- Duty to produce a care and support plan – the Care Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to produce a care and support plan setting out any eligible needs requiring care and support provision, and detailing the support that is going to be provided by the local authority. The Coronavirus Act 2020 has suspended the duty to do this.
- Duty to review care and support plans already in place - the Care Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to keep care and support plans under review (including to conduct a review following a reasonable request by or on behalf of the vulnerable adult to who it relates). The Coronavirus Act 2020 has suspended this duty to review existing support plans.
- NHS continuing healthcare – The Coronavirus Act 2020 also suspends the duty for NHS clinical commissioning groups to comply with the duty to conduct an assessment of eligibility for continuing healthcare, even where it appears that the person may have a meet for such care.
These provisions are due to be in place for an initial period of two years, are to be reviewed every six months and could be shortened or lengthened.
This is an incredibly difficult and testing time, and the new legislation has triggered widespread concerns about the impact that these measures will have on vulnerable people with social care needs, at a time when they are already isolated in their homes and not able to necessarily seek the support of loved ones.
If you are concerned about the impact that these changes could have on your social care support, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 696 6229 for advice from our specialist community care team.